Newsletter of the National Sustainable Agricultural Information Service: A project of the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT).
In this issue:
Editor’s note: This issue of ATTRAnews looks at the rapidly growing population of Spanish-speaking farmers and ranchers in the U.S. We highlight our Spanish-language publications and services, and some of the other groups who work with these farmers.
By Karen Van Epen
The 2002 Census of Agriculture, released at the beginning of June by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, shows a remarkable increase in the number of Latino farmers in the U.S. These are not farm workers, but farm operators who own or lease the land. Observers note distinct groups of Latino farmers, who achieve farm ownership in different ways.
In Texas and New Mexico, many Hispanic farmers and ranchers are still working the land granted to their ancestors by the Spanish crown in the 1700s. But all over the country, large numbers of Spanish-speaking farmworkers and managers are buying the farms where they work.
In many cases, the children of the boss are not interested in following in their parents’ footsteps on the family farm. The workers, on the other hand, know how to run the farm and are sure they want to do it. The farmers and their employees trust each other and are able to create purchase agreements, often transferring ownership of 5, 10, or 15 acres at a time.
Juan Marinez, of Michigan State University Extension, points out that this wave of immigrant farmers is similar to previous American generations—Norwegians in Minnesota, Germans in Texas, Japanese and Italians in California. They work hard, belong to tight-knit families, and live frugally as they save money to purchase property.
But unlike previous immigrant generations, who settled together in ethnic communities, these farmers are spreading out from coast to coast. Their networks are national in scope, drawing them all over the country.
The 2002 ag census reveals that the wave of Latino farmers has even reached New England, which shows some of the sharpest increases in Latino farm ownership.
USDA’s 2002 Census of Agriculture is available from the National Agricultural Statistics Service at http://www.nass.usda.gov/census. Their hotline is 1-800-727-9540.
Almost 25 years ago when Hilario Alvarez came to the Yakima Valley in Washington, he went to work for local farmers. He leased some land to farm in his "off" hours and with his savings was eventually able to buy 25 acres.
Hearing about the Cesar Chavez movement in California and the dangers of pesticides, Alvarez decided to farm organically. Since 1991, he has sold much of his produce at the bustling Pike Place Market in Seattle and also provides weekly boxes of produce to area subscribers.
The nine Alvarez children are all involved in the farm — growing, harvesting, packing, and marketing at farmers’ markets in the Tri Cities and Yakima areas as well. On their 45 acres, the family produces green beans, beets, cucumbers, eggplant, garbanzos, garlic, onions, peas, peppers, potatoes, squash, sweet corn, tomatillos, tomatoes and melons.
Hilario participates in the training programs of the Center for Latino Farmers (see next story) and in various conferences, where he shares his experiences with aspiring farmers and farmers’ market vendors.
In 1992 Luz Bazan Gutierrez founded the Yakima-based Rural Community Development Resources (RCDR) to help limited-resource Hispanic producers enter agriculture and build successful collaborative businesses. RCDR’s Center for Latino Farmers guides beginning farmers with limited English skills as they establish their own family farms. The Center staff also provides workshops and training sessions for Latino farm operators who want access to USDA programs.
Gutierrez and Dr. Malaquías Flores, director of the Center for Latino Farmers, deliver training in financial and risk management, marketing, and practical farming techniques. While many Latino farmers do not know how to use computers, they often have the machines in their homes for their children to use. So the Center finds ways for the children to help parents learn.
Contact: Center for Latino Farmers 24 S. 3rd Ave., Yakima, WA 98902 509-453-5133, email@example.com
On California’s Central Coast, the Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association (ALBA) provides education about sustainable agriculture to Spanish community members who otherwise wouldn’t have the resources to pursue small-scale family farming.
ALBA offers bilingual support in farm management, agronomy, conservation, environmental restoration, business management, postharvest techniques, and marketing. NCAT staff in California have collaborated with ALBA to present workshops on organic pest management and risk management.
Aspiring farmers may attend a six-month, classroom-based program called PEPA—Programa Educativo para Pequeños Agricultores. Upon graduation, they can put their lessons to work on a half-acre of land at ALBA’s 112-acre Rural Development Center south of Salinas. The new farmers have the option of a three-year extended apprenticeship.
Because even experienced growers face daunting challenges, ALBA also offers a program for established farmers. The instruction consists of short courses on pest management, postharvest handling, and marketing. In the fields, the farmers focus on conservation and restoration practices that promote the health of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
Contact: ALBA, PO Box 6264, Salinas, CA 93912, 831-758-1469, http://www.albafarmers.org
Order ATTRA publications in Spanish by calling 1-800-346-9140 (English) or 1-800-411-3222 (Español), or download them from ATTRA’s Web site at http://www.attra.ncat.org/espanol/. Our Spanish publications include:
Available on CD-Rom
El Manejo Integrado Orgánico de Algunas Plagas de la Agricultura (Organic Integrated Pest Management)
Vias del Mercadeo (Marketing Channels)
Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) Publications
Visit ATTRA’s Spanish-language Web site at http://www.attra.ncat.org/espanol/.
ATTRA proudly presents a new series of Spanish-language pictorial “field guides” to organic Integrated Pest Management (IPM). The focus is on ecologically based strategies that prevent insect and vertebrate pests, diseases, and weeds from becoming a problem in the first place.
The guides feature color photos of important pests and beneficial organisms. Brief text provides useful “take-home messages” for farmers. Only the Spanish-language field guide is available now, but an English-language version is coming soon.
from the ATTRA IPM Field Guide:
Mosca Sírfida (Syrphid
Ciclo de Vida de la Mosca Sírfida (Life Cycle of the Syrphid Fly)
In South Texas, limited-resource farmers and ranchers—particularly Hispanic operators—can call upon the University of Texas Pan American’s Project FORGE for computer training and access to on-line resources.
When the project’s “net-mobile” rolls into town—with its wireless Internet access and plenty of computers—local farmers, ranchers, and rural residents eagerly climb on board. Instructors teach computer literacy, word processing, spreadsheet programs, and how to use the World Wide Web and e-mail. ATTRA’s Spanish-language Web site and publications are included in the educational experience.
Contact: Project Forge, University of Texas Pan American, 1201 W. University Drive, Edinburg, TX 78539-2999, 956-743-5348, http://www.coserve.org/forge/.
This summer, 10 students from migrant families are attending courses devoted to pepper research at New Mexico State University, Las Cruces.
"Our students are US citizens from first- or second-generation migrant families anywhere in the United States,” said Danise Coon, assistant director of NMSU’s Chile Pepper Institute. “The goal is to introduce these students with migrant backgrounds to the agricultural research process and to broaden their interest in scientific studies."
During the summer session, students are paired with graduate students and faculty members for instruction in plant breeding, mechanical harvesting and variety development, as well as disease and insect control.
Contact: Danise Coon, 505-646-3028, http://www.chilepepperinstitute.org.
Bilingual on-line pest
Farm Service Agency
The Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and the National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture has provided this update on funding recommended by the House agriculture appropriations subcommittee for key sustainable agriculture programs within USDA.
For updated information for these and other key programs, including conservation programs provided for in the 2002 Farm Bill, please contact Margaret Krome at 608-238-1440 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click on any of the following links to view these publications online.
To obtain additional informational materials, visit our Web site at http://www.attra.ncat.org, or call us toll-free Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Central at 1-800-346-9140 (English) or 1-800-411-3222 (Spanish).
ATTRAnews is the bi-monthly newsletter of the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service. The newsletter is distributed free throughout the United States to farmers, ranchers, Cooperative Extension agents, educators and others interested in sustainable agriculture. ATTRA is funded through the USDA Rural Business-Cooperative Service and is a project of the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), a private, non-profit organization that since 1976 has helped people by championing small-scale, local and sustainable solutions to reduce poverty, promote healthy communities, and protect natural resources.
Teresa Maurer, Project Manager
Comments? Questions? Email the ATTRAnews editor Karen Van Epen at email@example.com.
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